The triple constraints are listed as Time, Cost and Scope. PMBOK 4th Edition lists 6 project constraints: Cost, Time, Scope, Quality, Risk, and Resources.

Can the scale of a project be considered a project constraint?


Scale would only be considered a constraint in the fact that it might determine that the 'project' is actually a 'program', made up of what should be several smaller or component projects.

In any other case, scale would only be 'result' of all the other factors.

  • Good point. The 'scale' of the project determines the approach you will have to follow, with its own organisation requirements, processes, .... Which in turn makes it a constraint. Thanks. – Stephan Nov 12 '12 at 11:20

The scale of a project is determined in the first place by the scope of the project (both product and project scope), and derived from that also the number of resources that you will need, the time it will take, required quality, level of risk. And all of that has impact on the budget as well.

So I wouldn't call the scale a constraint, but rather the result of the impact of the other constraints.

For instance, a large objective (rewrite entire application to strenghten market share and reduce maintenance) could be reduced, due to budgetary constraints for instance, to a simple makeover of the user interface (and thereby dropping the "reduce maintenance" bit of the objective).

The 'scale' of the project is reduced substantially because of one (or more) constraint(s).

  • Thank you for your very insightful answer. I was also thinking along the same lines that the scale of a project is a part of the project scope. Now, since Scope is a project constraint, wouldn't Scale also be a constraint? – Bigyan Sijapati Nov 9 '12 at 5:50
  • Bigyan, can you give an example of where you think scale is also a constraint? I don't see scale as a 'part of' the project scope, but rather the 'result of'. – Stephan Nov 9 '12 at 15:37
  • Stephan, for instance if a project were to be undertaken to build a simple office building of x number of floors. Wouldn't the number of floors be a major deciding factor on the required budget as well as the project schedule? – Bigyan Sijapati Nov 11 '12 at 5:21
  • Certainly, but I consider the number of floors = scope. The 'scale' of the project takes many more factors into consideration, not only the scope: also number of resources, number of stakeholders, technical complexity, exposure to the general public ... – Stephan Nov 12 '12 at 8:53
  • @Bigyan, maybe a better way to look at this concept is that scale is a relative measure of scope. In your example, as the number of floors increase so does'scope'. So you may need more materials, more subcontractors, more equipment, more time, more money. But these come (scale is increased) because the scope increased. The scale itself can't change unless the scope does. Another important distinction is that 'scale' can't be quantified or defined. Large, small, complex; they're all relative. All other constraints however can be. That's why they're constraints. They're fixed values. – Trevor K. Nelson Nov 12 '12 at 20:19

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